With the 98th season of the National Football League amongst us, it is evident the nation’s most adored sporting league¹ has no plans on slowing its continually growing impact, both on and off the field. As top-tier players continue to revolutionize the game by bringing another level of culture, athleticism and dynamism to the football field each fall, franchise owners and management are producing revolutions of their own as they consistently redefine the ways they engage the millions of fans they host each season. Investment levels have entered the billions as owners capitalize on the latest advances in technology, analytics, and service to bring the ultimate fan and guest experience to their respective stadiums.
The Miami Dolphins are just one of those teams. Most recently, Miami Dolphins chairman and majority owner Stephen Ross personally financed a $500 million stadium renovation² for the newly-named Hard Rock Stadium. While a new canopy shading 92 percent of fans and four state-of-the-art video screens have taken most of the attention, the technology transformation the Dolphins have seen over the last twenty years has also brought significant exposure and respect to the organization. Dolphins’ Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Tery Howard has been at the reigns of this technology evolution for the last 18 seasons, bringing over her talents from Carnival Cruise Lines after spending 16 years managing their shipboard technologies. Consistently recognized by her peers for her extensive IT knowledge and innovative foresight in the tech industry, Tery has excelled in her ability to create and execute technology strategy that is forward-thinking, service-oriented, and intelligently beneficial for her team.
What are your overall responsibilities as CTO for the Miami Dolphins?
The highlights of my responsibilities include defining the Miami Dolphins’ technology strategy in managing the resources, solutions, services and the overall investment costs for the team.My focus is ensuring that our technology is agile, resilient, and scalable in exceeding our business demands into the next 5 to 10 years.
What about the Miami Dolphins organization drew you in and what has helped keep you there for 18 seasons?
I had two priorities at the time of my transition—to spend as much quality time as a mother of two young children and to work on my MBA degree.Although I had an incredible team at Carnival, the Miami Dolphins were offering me an opportunity to build a technology team from the ground up.
In 2009, I met Stephen Ross who eventually became a great mentor for me.During his first year as a new owner, I had the privilege of working very closely with him, learning every step of the way.He opened a lot of doors for and provided lifelong insights in achieving success.
Technology has changed drastically since your first day in the NFL and you are well known as a “game changer” in the industry for how you constantly use technology to improve the Miami Dolphins business. How have your priorities changed in terms of technology servicing and how has sponsorship involvement evolved with these priorities?
There is nothing constant about technology, which is what is most fascinating to any technology leader. We must be technical, creative and balanced to see beyond what is in front of us. Our priorities are impacted by a number of variables, which include innovation, internal business demands, consumer’s expectations and the industry. We must be vigilant and smart about piecing all of these variables together to find what will give us the competitive edge. We are fortunate to have a sponsorship team that is in touch with these realities, ensuring that our partners are leading and innovative, allowing them to become an extension of our technology team.
What are some of the current tech projects you are working on now with corporate sponsors of the team?
One of the most interesting projects this year has involved the varied number of technology solutions selected as a part of our construction project. Working with EMC, one of corporate sponsors, we challenged them to rewrite their code to integrate with another sponsor, Avigilon. Prior to our project, the two companies did not have a collaborative solution. This collaboration allowed both companies to deploy a new service for their technology portfolio, maximizing the utility of their products and solutions.
If you could predict the next biggest wave in technology innovation in the NFL or in sports in general, what would it be?
With the advent of network connected devices and projections of 25 billion things being connected by 2020, we will see a trend in how businesses interact, communicate, transact and service their constituency.Utilizing contextual computing, organizations will begin to utilize the data they collect to understand and anticipate consumers and partner’s needs.
In your professional career thus far, what are the most important factors you have weighed when making career decisions?
My professional career has always been and will continue to be very important to me, affording me the opportunity to be a continuous learner and a mentor to my team.The sacrifices I’ve made to accomplish my career goals provides a living example for my children and those around me that one can always achieve when they believe in themselves, with confidence and determination.The factors that contribute to making my career decisions have always stemmed from ensuring that I do not sacrifice family time, while balancing my work demands and responsibilities.
If someone asked you for the best career advice you could offer, what would you say?
Believe in yourself and through determination and perseverance, you will achieve your dreams.Never be afraid to fail, as failure breeds success and confidence, if managed appropriately and with humility. Value your team members and provide guidance, support and understanding so that they can be as successful as you are.
How will you one day evaluate whether or not you’ve had a successful career?
Having no regrets and knowing that I did the very best I could have done, given the situation and constraints that were given to me.